Almost one third of patients in Scotland waited longer than four hours in A&E earlier this month, figures show.
Data from Public Health Scotland shows 67.9% of people were seen and subsequently admitted or discharged in less than four hours in the week up to August 7.
A Scottish Government target aims to ensure a minimum of 95% of people are seen within that timeframe – a goal that has not been met since July of 2020, when the country was in the depths of the coronavirus pandemic.
The figure increased from 66.3% in the previous week.
Of the 24,731 attendances at A&E that week, 916 waited longer than 12 hours, while 2,369 waited longer than eight hours and 7,947 people were in emergency departments for longer than four hours.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish A&Es have outperformed the rest of the UK for the past seven years despite the extreme pressures posed by the pandemic.
“Occupancy and staffing pressures remain high and continue to impact the delivery of emergency services.
“Covid has not gone away but despite this, more than two-thirds of patients are being seen within four hours of arrival.
“We are investing £50 million to drive down waiting times through our Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, including further development of Flow Navigation Centres in every board which aim to ensure rapid access to a clinician and scheduled appointments, where possible.
“This will avoid people waiting in A&E waiting rooms unnecessarily. We are engaging with boards on an ongoing basis to support them to avoid delays.”
Scottish Tory health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane said the crisis in the NHS is “seemingly never-ending”, adding: “Just because we have come to expect around a third of patients having to wait more than four hours to be seen in A&E, we should never accept it as the norm. We know excess delays in emergency wards lead to needless deaths.
“Patients and our dedicated but shattered frontline staff continue to be let down by years of woeful workforce planning by the SNP, as well as Humza Yousaf’s flimsy NHS Recovery Plan.
“He needs to urgently come up with an alternative strategy fast. Right now he is presiding over dreadful A&E waiting times during the height of summer, which is only pointing to complete chaos come winter.”
While Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “We cannot go on like this.
“Scotland’s A&E services are dangerously overheated because of lack of capacity elsewhere in the NHS system – with lives being put in danger every day.
“NHS staff are working heroically but they are being failed day in and day out by this government.
“We cannot allow more lives to be endangered by SNP incompetence. Humza Yousaf must finally wake up to the situation and act now before more lives are lost.”
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Anyone who needs medical attention deserves to be seen close to where they live, and in a timely manner.
“Yet thousands of Scots week in week out have only seen waiting times deteriorate further and further.
“We are now seeing a major crisis in the NHS at the height of summer, and based on the reaction from the SNP/Green Government you would be forgiven for thinking they are trying to pretend it’s not happening.
“If they cannot get control of the situation now, I dread to think what patients will be confronted with come winter.”
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